Does the Bible say that Jesus spent three days and three nights in hell (sheol or hades)?

As I understand it, Jesus did go to hell for a brief period of time, according to Acts 2:31 (Peter is quoting Psalm 16:8-11) but Jesus probably did not go to hell for three days and three nights.

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Jesus teaches H.E.L.L. 101

"He (King David) seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that HIS soul was not left in hell, neither HIS flesh did see corruption." - Acts 2:31

According to Jesus Himself, He would "be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth," Matthew 12:40, but that doesn't mean he would be in hell for three days and three nights. In the Bible, Abraham's bosom (also called paradise) and hell are depicted as being side by side with an impassable gulf between them.
"And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence." - Luke 16:22-23.

Possible order of events

  1. When Jesus died, he went first to the hell part of hades (the underworld), to show his triumph over sin and death, Colossians 2:15. 

  2. Some teach that in hell, Jesus "preached unto the spirits in prison," 1 Peter 3:19, although 1 Pet 3:19 is more likely a reference to people in the days of Noah with whom the Spirit of God strove for 120 years, Genesis 6:3, who were destroyed in Noah's flood, Genesis 6:13, and not a reference to hell.

    "For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell..." - 2 Peter 2:4,

  3. and as He left hell, Jesus took the keys "of hell and of death" from the devil, Revelation 1:18.

It doesn't say how long those events took, probably only a few hours but certainly less than a day, because of Jesus' promise to the dying thief in Luke 23:43 - "To day shalt thou be with me in paradise."

Some people believe that while he was in paradise, Jesus also preached the gospel to the Old Testament saints, those who were saved but had little knowledge of God's complete plan of redemption since they died before Jesus came to earth. They base this belief on 1 Peter 4:5-6.
"Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick (living) and the dead. For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit."

I believe 1 Peter 4:5-6 refers to prophetic truths preached to Abraham and other Old Testament saints in the Old Testament time period instead of referring to Jesus preaching the gospel to the saints in Abraham's bosom or paradise. I base my belief on Galatians 3:8, where the Bible says:
"And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed."

Gospel means "the good news" so the truth that God was going to save not just the Jews but also the heathen, through faith, Ephesians 2:16, was indeed good news, 1800 years before the birth of Christ.

Jesus spent the remainder of the three days and three nights in paradise and then he ascended up on high and "led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men," Ephesians 4:8.

Some years after the resurrection and ascension of Christ, Paul was caught up to paradise, 2 Corinthians 12:4, "How that he was caught up into paradise..." which by that time, was in the third heaven, 2 Corinthians 12:2, not in the heart of the earth.

Some believe that when Jesus "led captivity captive," He took paradise or at least all the saints in paradise (from the heart of the earth), up to heaven so that paradise is now an empty compartment.

Additional Information

Jesus preached on H.e.l.l.

Do homos go to h.e.l.l.?

Surprises in h.e.l.l.

How NOT to go to
H.e.l.l. when you die

Repentance and how to repent

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Comments for Does the Bible say that Jesus spent three days and three nights in hell (sheol or hades)?

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Sep 22, 2009
Now this is a surprise.
by: Daniel

You believe in hell, Rick? Every piece of research I've found that examines the ancient Hebrew/Aramaic and Greek languages leads me to believe that hell is a convenient twist of translation, where the Old Testament Hebrew word "Sheol" (meaning grave or pit) and New Testament "Gehenna" (a perpetually burning garbage dump outside of Jerusalem) were periodically replaced with the pagan word "Hel" by the Roman Catholic church as they translated the Biblical scriptures into Latin in an effort to bring the masses to Christ through fear.

Not to mention that the very concept of hell flies in the face of what God is all about: love, mercy and forgiveness.

Given your obvious commitment and dedication to understanding the books of the Bible in their original historical contexts and languages, I'm surprised that you believe God has created a (presumably eternal) realm of torture and suffering for His children. Is this a topic you've researched? If so, I'm curious to know why you think there's a hell.

(Love the site btw. Keep up the good work!)

Sep 22, 2009
Rick Brentlinger answers Daniel's question about hell
by: Anonymous

I inadvertently forgot to put in my name when I answered this question. The system does not allow me to input my name once the original post is made so Anonymous will have to stay there but this is me, Rick Brentlinger, answering.

Daniel - Yes, I definitely believe in a real hell as described in the Bible, a place of punishment without water, a place of flames and torment, precisely as Jesus Himself described it in the Bible, Luke 16:19-31.

Hell is mentioned 23 times in the New Testament. At least 16 of those 23 times, Jesus Christ Himself warns about the horrors of hell and the everlasting punishment the lost will experience there.

Jesus died in our place as our Substitute to pay the penalty for our sins so we would never have to go to hell IF we repent of our sins and trust Jesus as our Savior. Here are just a few lines of what Jesus said about hell.

* "in danger of hell fire" - Matthew 5:22
* "cast into hell" - Matthew 5:29
* "cast into hell" - Matthew 5:30
* "fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" - Matthew 10:28
* "cast into hell fire" - Matthew 18:9
* "twofold more the child of hell than yourselves" - Matthew 23:15
* "Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?" - Matthew 23:33
* "go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched" - Mark 9:43
* "cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched" - Mark 9:45
* "Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him." - Luke 12:5
* "And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments" - Luke 16:23

Jesus Himself believed in hell
Jesus On Hell.

The good news is, no one has to go to Hell. Jesus made a way for us to have eternal life in Heaven, with Him, by being saved.

Oct 12, 2009
by: Daniel

Greetings Anonymous,

I'm aware that in most English language versions of the Bible Jesus discusses hell. My point is that since those biblical books were not originally written in English it leaves open the possibility that, over the course of many, many centuries, certain words and concepts may have been either lost in translation or purposely mistranslated.

The Jews don't believe in an eternal hell. Yet the Christian Old Testament (OT) is based on their Torah (or Tanakh). If our English language versions of the OT were translated with %100 accuracy, why this disagreement?

Try reading the (OT) and mentally substituting the word "grave" every time the word hell appears, then ask yourself which word makes more sense. Also note the vast difference in description of the OT "hell" against the New Testament "hell" that Jesus supposedly described.

Also, consider this verse ...

Jeremiah 19:5 -- They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, [B]neither came it into my mind.[/B]

It seems contradictory for a God who created an eternal realm of fire and torment to say burning His children never entered His mind.

Had the books of the Bible been originally penned in English, I would have no problem with taking its words literally. However we know that those books have passed through numerous languages (and oppressive early churches) over thousands of years, giving rise to inconsistencies that must be investigated if we are to ever learn the truth about God.

I applaud Rick's search for the truth via this site and I sincerely hope that more and more people will embark on the same journey.

Be well.

Nov 02, 2009
Hell is real
by: Anonymous

I am not a preacher or anything of the sort and I still have a whole lot more to learn of the bible, but the little bit I do know of the bible are the parts that you really cannot interpret many different ways.

First of all, hell is eternal, in revelations It's not a grave, but a pit of fire and torment and gnashing of teeth.

But the part others fail to realize is, God did not create this place for his children, but for his angels that wronged him in heaven, and them not being of humanly flesh, to keep them in eternal prison would take more than what it would take for us.

I don't know the exact words, but I know that it mentions that hell was not intended for us, and we (those that aren't saved) will enter as foreigners.

God does not want us to go to hell for eternity, but he cannot let any sin enter the gates of heaven, or it really wouldn't be any different than it is here.

So those who choose not to accept him or that Jesus died on the cross for us, and continue to sin and do wrong cannot possibly enter into a place of paradise and pureness. That is the place he has prepared for us, all the ones who choose to accept him.

Hell was created for the fallen angels, not us.

Sep 16, 2010
gay christians
by: Sherman

First, I would like to say that I'm saying this in the spirit of love. I know there will be those who will not see the love in what I'm saying but judge me by the spirit of God. According to Romans 1:26,For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women eschanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. 28. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting.

This is out of the bible and I wonder how a gay christian minister expain this part of the scripture to his flock? The bible tells us to repent because sin can not enter into heaven and as we see by the scripture this is sin. Now please don't come at me with we all have sinned, because we all have sinned but there is a difference in living in sin.

Being gay is a lifestyle. I hope you take this in the spirit of love in the way I am giving it. God Bless all who read this and repent for God loves you and so do I.

Sep 16, 2010
I hope you'll take the time to read this
by: Rick Brentlinger

You asked how a gay Christian preacher deals with Romans 1:26-28. I hope you will take the time to

"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15

This page about Romans 1, written by a gay Christian preacher, is a good place to begin your study. It has many Links to additional information.

God bless you if you'll study to rightly divide His written words.

Mar 08, 2011
by: walter

i want to say thank you first, but to tell you the truth, no one really knows, but we have the bible, and thats good, just got to have faith, right?

Sep 01, 2011
by: Anonymous

Dear Mr, Ms,
Not to offend your religion, the explanation you gave is 1st uncertain even by your self, my mind can't accept that My Creator would spend a second in hell for what so ever reason. Our Creator doesn't need to proof this way that he is Merciful or other reason, of course I can't tell God how he should act but HELL is for humans only as per the Bible, to punish HUMANS. Jesus came to earth as God, Human, Messenger... was one of the explanation I got from a preacher. You can accept this type of explanation by being an extremist, our Creator gave us the brean to analyze. Revise the Bible you might came up with a better explanation or you are reading the wrong Religion.

Sep 01, 2011
Did you know Jesus taught on hell?
by: Rick Brentlinger

Hey Anonymous, Thanks for stopping by. Did you know Jesus taught on Hell? Of the 23 times hell is mentioned in the New Testament, 20 of those times, talk about hell comes from Jesus. He had more to say about hell than anyone else in the New Testament.

Download our FREE Bible study Jesus teaches Hell 101.

It will get you up to speed on what Jesus believed and taught about hell. And knowing what Jesus believed and taught about hell will inform your understanding about what you should believe about hell.

Here at gaychristian101, we agree with Jesus on hell and believe He taught the truth about this important topic.

Mar 18, 2012
Hell is definitely real
by: AnonymousKevan

Hell was not created for man. Hell was created for Lucifer and his angels/demons after he betrayed our glorious God. 2 peter 3:9 says: The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long suffering, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

The Lord our God is as the Bible says, love. He does not want any of us to go to Hell. However while he is our father, He is also holy. I heard someone ask; "If a person were to go out and with a gun and find your home and kill all the people that you love, and later was caught, and while in front of the judge his lawyer reminds the judge that this person had lived a perfect life up to that point and had done no wrong and even done many good things for many people, should the judge let him go?

If the judge did let that person go would he be a good judge? The answer would be no. God holds himself to an even higher standard than the so called best of men. He is unchanging. Jesus is the answer to our problem. If we accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, we will not have to worry about hell. Praise God. Hell is horrible. Hell is pain. Hell is without hope, and yes Hell is real. But thank you Jesus, so is Heaven.

Apr 07, 2012
God does not send HIS children to hell
by: Kate

God did not create hell for HIS children. It was a place reserved for the devil and his angels, Revelation 20:10 AND "...the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable,and murders, and whoremongers, and sorcerers,and idolaters and all liars..." Revelation 21:8

The Bible says ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. How ever, that is why God came to earth as a man and shed HIS blood for the atonement of sin. Romans 8:9 "...if so be the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of God he is none of His. How do receive the Spirit of God? Acts 2:38-39 "...Repent, and be baptized, everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ (Yeshua Hamashia in the original text)for the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost... for the promise is unto you..." Romans 8:15 " have received the Spirit of adoption..." ABBA!

Apr 08, 2012
cWC - the christian Wingnut Collective strikes again
by: Anonymous

Rick's comment: Wingnut is a political and religious epithet used to describe someone's extreme and irrational religious views. The author of the following rant could also be a moonbat, which tends to describe irrational liberals. But the author is most likely a certifiable wingnut.

It's full moon time again and the wingnuts are scrambling to spew as much crazy hate as possible. Here is the latest missive from the christian Wingnut Collective.

Stop your lies!! You are decieved people how dare you embarece our Lord Jesus Christ by your vain teaching "gay Christians "

God created them male and female not male and male please stop excusing yourself with Devils lies! Good sermon on hell " gay Christian" ! LIES!

Apr 11, 2012
Not gay
by: Kate

When I came across this site,I did not answer to endorse this life style. My personal belief is that any sex activity outside of covenant relationship in GOD is sin. If people can not get past the flesh, they sure are not going to receive spiritual revelation. Sin keeps us separated from GOD. Even a little white lie can blind you to truth. No one can escape wrath on their own merits, else Christ died in vain. No one can "be good enough."

That is what is so great about GOD/Creator. Perfection created perfection that became imperfection because of flesh weakness. The only way back is to ask for forgiveness, and keep looking to perfection. If everyone looked at their own condition,truthfully, they would not have time to judge others because of their own weaknesses.

And when you think you are perfect, watch out, you are about to be shown how imperfect you really are. We were created to worship and glorify the Creator, not destroy His creation.

Oct 08, 2012
by: Anonymous

I dont believe hell is a eternal place, if we obtain life and live forever as believers,how could those who dont belive recieve anything eternal, even if it is death. After all is said and done and Gods plan comes full circle.i believe we will have life,and those who dont will have nothing.

and the verse led captivity captive, i believe he is speaking of the grace administration coming into play. we were held captive by sin,and sin had power because of the commandment,when jesus fullfilled the commandment a new covenant came into play,not like the law of moses. i believe when he sais he led captivity captive that he is saying he freed man from what we were bound by.(law)and giving us a free shot at freedom if we believe.

a detailed study of romans really explains this.
we should not make it more complaicated then it is.
and jesus christ paid the full price of sin,not only was he killed,but he became sin in the flesh,so i believe when he went to hell or hades,he went in the image of sin,of man,and not as a righteous savior.
it makes sense if you stop using your brain and start believing the words that are written.

Rick's comment: In Matthew 18:8 and 25:41, Jesus warned of everlasting fire. In Revelation 20:11-15, scripture warns us that death and hell will be cast into the lake of fire.

I believe Jesus, that hell is a place of everlasting fire which culminates in the lake of fire for eternity. Please do not go there. Instead, please trust Jesus as you Savior from hell. Many thanks for stopping by.

Oct 19, 2012
LOVE the site! Just wanted to add my two cents :o)
by: Melinda Green

Proverbs 16:4 - "The LORD hath made all things for himself; yea, even the wicked for the day of evil."

Good can only be measured in the presence of bad, or evil. If there is a heaven, surely there is a hell. I mean I seriously doubt that God kicked Lucifer out of heaven only to be roomies with him later.

Just my two cents. :o)

Rick's comment: Thanks Melinda - your kind words are much appreciated!

Jan 13, 2013
christian gays?
by: jojo

Matthew 5:29-30 - "And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell."

Matthew 10:28 - "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."

Jesus illustrated in a very dramatic way that you should do whatever you have to do to keep yourself from hell. It is better to give up something or someone now than to hold on to those things or people and suffer eternal loss in hell later.

Rick's comment: Hi jojo - Is that your not so subtle hint that you think gays must stop being gay or we'll go to hell? I notice you convey that sentiment without a shred of evidence, without any verses which, in context, say that.

Your assignment for this week is to read, believe and memorize 2 Timothy 2:15. Easiest way to memorize it is to write down the verse on a 3x5 card and read it out loud 7 times before each meal and again before bedtime.

Do you know what Jesus taught about hell? Find out by sitting in on this class: Jesus teaches Hell 101

Also download and fill in the blanks on this FREE Bible study: FREE pdf Bible study on hell.

Mar 28, 2013
Jesus 3 days in hell
by: Anonymous

You got a lot of it right, but you missed a small chunk. when Jesus told the thief today you shall be with me in paradise. He was referring to Abraham's bosom which was also called paradise. because Jesus was in hell for 3 days and 3 nights because scripture tells us he was.

Matthew 12:40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

So if Jesus told the thief today your gonna be with me in paradise and paradise is heaven then Jesus just lied to the thief because Jesus didn't take him that day into paradise and waited 3 days. Scripture tells us in Jesus there is no sin. So therefor this tells us that paradise is also Abrahams bosom. The thief on the cross who was saved by Christ went down where the saved went and that is in paradise into Abraham's bosom.

Rick's comment: Please read my article more closely. I did point out that "In the Bible, Abraham's bosom (also called paradise) and hell are depicted as being side by side with an impassable gulf between them."

And I also point out: "It doesn't say how long those events took, probably only a few hours but certainly less than a day, because of Jesus' promise to the dying thief in Luke 23:43 - "To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.""

Thanks for being interested enough to read the Bible closely. I wish more folks were like you!

Jul 13, 2013
another possibility
by: Roberta

I am not Gay either, but happened upon this site because I googled the topic.

Another possibility to why Jesus told the thief that he would be with Him in paradise that day, and why He could have meant heaven is because heaven exists outside of time. I find it interesting in Ephesians 2:5-6 Paul is using the past tense.

5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

It is like it is a done deal and we are already there, and I believe that in a sense we are, because time is a physical property. Here is an interesting blurb on this by Chuck Missler.

Jul 29, 2013
God Only
by: Anonymous

Came across this by accident, but since this has been on my mind, I'd like to ask a question. Since Paul begins this section of Romans 1 with writing about "the wrath of God " being "revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness," does it really refer to only a specific time, or even a practice such as shrine prostitution? Paul writes that God gave them over to "vile affections", "degrading.passions," and then explains what they were. Women burning in their desire towards one another, and men with men committing indecent acts. If he was referring to shrine prostitution, or to idolatry, fine, but he still goes on to explain, in some detail, what vile affection God gave them over to; homosexuality. God created Eve for Adam, and said it was good. I believe God loves every gay person, but does hate homosexuality, but He also hates any heterosexual sex outside the context of marriage, unforgiveness, gossiping, envy, laziness, and selfishness, all of which I have in the past or do now struggle with. Why don't we both cry out to God for His truth in knowing what He wants us to see in not only this passage, but in all of His word. I'll pray for you and for myself in this! To God be the glory!

Rick's comment: The info at these links helps to answer your questions.

The truth about Romans 1.

How can we be sure what Paul was talking about in Romans 1?

Does Romans say that God gives gay people over to homosexuality?

Does Romans 1:26 condemn lesbians?

Jul 29, 2013
God only
by: Anonymous

It is wonderful that Jesus is your Savior and that you call others to Christ for salvation!

Apr 30, 2014
To Daniel
by: Cara

So, tell me Daniel, where do the evil people of this earth go when they die? To Heaven to be with the children they raped and murdered? Will those who rape, pillage, murder, torture, abuse the innocent ones get into Heaven with God's good graces? If this is what you think, you are sadly mistaken.

God is a loving God a forgiving God but he is also a God that will not let sinners into Heaven. You must be saved and accept Christ as your savior in order to get into Heaven. No one gets into Heaven except through me, said Jesus in John 14:6. It is easier to fit a camel through the eye of a needle than for a sinner to get into Heaven. Read your Bible. Studying a language doesn't teach the word the word of God. God Bless you and may he open your eyes to the truth.

Jun 21, 2018
Gay? Christian? Saved?
by: Wayne Myers

God loves the sinner (that's all of us). He hates sin. So (not being an authority on this), it's my understanding that God loves homosexuals, but frowns on homosexuality.

So, if one accepts Jesus Christ into their heart, Jesus forgives you for every sin you ever committed or will commit. You won't even be judged. The unbelievers WILL be.

So, it all boils down to the choices WE make. God gave us the free will to do that. God bless.

Judge not, lest ye be judged.

Rick's comment: Hi Wayne - To believe that God frowns on homosexuality, we would need clear Bible verses which say that.

As honest Christians, we could not and would not take verses prohibiting shrine prostitution and rip them out of context and act like they are prohibiting homosexuality.

And we wouldn't fall into the trap of believing the new translations of the Bible, which insert the word homosexuality into the text of scripture when no human author of the Bible ever used a word in any language, that equates to the word, homosexuality.

Can we be gay, Christian and saved and right with God? Absolutely. That's what this website is about.

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